Grain Mill, Country Living Grain Mills, $429
The first time I saw freshly rolled oats I was amazed. I never understood that rolled oats were just that: rolled and flattened oats. And when I tasted them, I was further amazed. Just as grinding your own coffee makes better coffee than pre-ground coffee, grinding (or rolling) your own grain is better, too. This beauty from Country Living is adjustable and allows you to crack wheat or grind it into flour in just one pass.
Country ham, Virginia Traditions, $199.95
I recently interviewed master country ham maker Sam Edwards. While the country ham is a southern tradition, Sam has created a new market for dry-cured ham by showing it can compete with Italian prosciutto and Spanish jamon serrano. Served in thin slices cut right off the leg, it’s a more affordable, homegrown version of the porcine classic. Try Edwards’ ultra premium “Surryano.”
Fermentation crock, Williams-Sonoma, $79.95
I got one of these Polish-made, ceramic beauties for my birthday and I love it. For making small batches of sauerkraut or pickles a Mason jar is fine, but I go through the stuff quickly and graduated to this wonderful fermentation crock. I’ve got a big batch of kimchi working now and I’m brewing up some kombucha next. If you’re a fermentation fan or know someone who is, this is the one you want.
Herb caddy, Royal Design, $45
I suppose if I had a little herb garden outside my kitchen door I wouldn’t need this, but I don’t and I’m guessing lots of other folks don’t either. The ability to have a year-round supply of fresh herbs right on the counter-top would be pretty great. The little scissors are pretty handy, too.
Smoked sea salt, Mendocino Seasoning, $15
Harvested from the wild waters of Mendocino County, Calif., this smoked salt makes for a delicious little stocking stuffer. It’s a finishing salt perfect for sprinkling atop steaks or roasted vegetables.
Turkey roasting rack, Lee Valley, $21.50
During one Thanksgiving I dropped the bird the floor with a heavy splat as I tried to lift it out of the roasting pan with a wooden spoon and spatula. This rack eliminates that problem. Everyone who roasts a turkey needs this.
Chef’s knife, Cut Brooklyn, $575
If there’s one tool every kitchen needs it’s a good knife. Cut Brooklyn makes more than a good knife. It’s a work of art, but one that is eminently practical. They’re spendy but kept properly sharp they make slicing and dicing a pleasure.
Immersion circulator, Nomiku, $359
You’ll have to wait until spring until these are available, but the look to be what every modernist cook has been waiting for: an affordable, easy-to-use sous vide device that allows you to cook meat and vegetables at home just like the pros do.
Glass apothecary jars, Stonewall Kitchen, $24.95
I’ve got several of these jars on my counter. Mine hold flour, sugar, oats, granola, and nuts. Mason or Ball jars are great, but the heavy glass, large volume and classic designs make these very appealing.
Immersion blender, Bloomingdale’s, $125
I’ve always wanted one of these, but somehow no one has given me one yet. I fantasize about simmering a pot full of skinned tomatoes and then inserting this beast into the pot and pureeing it all into a the tomatoes into a fresh, silky tomato sauce. Santa, are you listening?